3/23/13

Scientology . . .

As the (somewhat) rare overlap of the Judeo-Christian "holy weeks" (Passover for The Tribe, The Palm Sunday - Easter stretch for the "saved") begins tomorrow/Monday, I wanted to answer another reader post suggestion and share my deepest feelings on Scientology.

I know, I know. DANGEROUS subject, right? The lawyers, and B-list celebrities will come after me if I dare say nuttin' bad about no religion that is based on the companion writing for a a science fiction novel. (If that is even really what it is based on . . . more about that later). But I'm not scared because, and this might actually shock some of you, I have NO problem with Scientology. That's right - sorry to say it but, like Anonymous (a far scarier group, in my never humble opinion), my ONLY issue with the "church" is the same I have with a bunch of other religions . . . the LEADERSHIP.

Imagine, for a minute, that the organization (insert any religion, government, Fantasy Football league, or boy scout troop) is actually the purest, best, most genuine version of itself. It does exactly what it should - offers a forum and a common place for those who seek what it offers. But now imagine that the leaders (priests/rabbis, CEOs, volunteers, etc.) have their own agendas for what the organization should be? No, silly - it is NOT hard to imagine. It is REALITY. EVERY ORGANIZATION EVER has been influenced, changed, altered, and - 51% or more of the time - lessened because of the human element of leadership.

Do I wonder why people "are" Scientologists? Sure. But I also wonder why my parents are still Catholics. I wonder why my older brother is an Agnostic at best. I wonder why a friend of mine, an avowed Atheist, talks about heaven, God, angels, and hell in weirdly reverent ways. I wonder why the Boy Scouts of America is still even a thing. I can't figure out why ANYONE likes Beyonce. I torment myself trying to figure out why reality television has grown, and grown, and grown. I get perturbed when I ponder that there are people out there that are not part of it but can name EVERY member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan. I shake my head when my mother asks me what I think of the Royal Baby in England. I've been asked 1,576 times why I'm converting to Judaism. Hell, my younger brother took a shot at my via text message just last night.

But I GET why all these things are what they are and have followers and legions and members . . . people want the ORGANIZATION. They want the best part of the ideal and they will ignore the human element and the trappings of it to "belong" - to feel like they are on a journey or a mission. To feel like they are honoring and cleaving to (cleave, by the way - fantastic word . . . it can mean "connecting to" and "separating from" depending only on context) something and, candidly, hoping they will get something back out of it. Be that merit bages, retweets, or eternal salvation/cleanliness.

I've got no real bone to pick with Scientology. I don't really understand it. Other religious faithful I barely "get" include, but are not limited to: Mormons, Jesuits vs. Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Protestants (I kid, I kid) and Pastafarians (but if you want to dig in to an intelligent discussion of religion, I suggest you look no farther than "his noodly appendage).

I'm FINE with Scientologists. I wish they had more comfortable, confident, open leaders. But that is why I left the Catholic Church (how tall ARE the walls around the Vatican). That is why I avoid a lot of other religions - I don't want to learn the machinery. Is Judaism any better? No. You've got four recognized versions of the faith (and a million other variations within/between each faction) and you've got Rabbis who try to steal congregants from other Rabbis.

But I consider myself a Jew more and more every day and I'm fine with that. I'm fine with a Scientologist on level 8 (or whatever) and I'm fine with parents having their sons become Eagle Scouts. I'm fine with gay couples holding hands in a Catholic Church during mass. I'm fine with facing Mecca to pray. Live. Let live. But do that genuinely. Don't let your personal agendas and leadership style interfere with the best, purest form of what an organization can be.

There. My feelings on Scientology. Confused? Me too.